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NASHOTAH, WI: Episcopal Bishop Relieved as Board Chairman of Nashotah House

NASHOTAH, WI: Episcopal Bishop Relieved as Board Chairman of Nashotah House
Canon Ed Monk named new board chairman

By David W. Virtue, DD
October 23, 2017

The chairman of the board of Nashotah House, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, was relieved of his position as chairman of the board last week, following a report by VOL of a blistering letter from the Anglican Bishop of San Joaquin, Eric Menees, deeply critical of the chairman's actions awarding TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry the Archbishop Ramsey award for excellence, when all he has done is tear the communion apart with his theology and pronouncements.

Martins got the news when the Board of Directors met and he was not re-elected. He had been chairman for five years. "I was not reelected. This is a shock--to me and to many others," he wrote at his blog. Who the "others" were Martins did not say. He also would not reveal the contents of a letter he said he wrote to Bishop Menees in response to charges the Anglo-Catholic bishop made about the future of Nashotah House.

"It will take me a while to process this, but I can say that *part* of what I will feel is relieved of a great burden of time and energy that has gone into my board duties. But it is a shock."

The San Joaquin Anglo-Catholic bishop signaled his outrage at Martins in a letter to him saying that while Curry preaches reconciliation, at every turn he fails to practice what he preaches with his continued support for the ongoing lawsuits in Quincy, Fort Worth and South Carolina. "Given this reality, Bp. Martins, can [you] give me a reason to send my men to Nashotah House? San Joaquin has had a long and positive past with Nashotah but at this point I am really shaking my head and wondering what in the world has happened?"

Menees said Curry failed in all three areas of Ecclesiology, Ecumenism and Liturgy, and accused the Presiding Bishop of disregarding the will of the primates of the Anglican Communion and continues to act willfully as one not under authority.

Apparently VOL's story which has had nearly 2,000 hits at the website http://www.virtueonline.org/nashotah-house-culture-wars caught the attention of the board and the decision was made not to re-elect him.

The board elected Canon Ed Monk, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, Corsicana, TX in the Diocese of Dallas, as its new chairman. Monk played a role in property disputes in 2009 when he proposed a change in Texas law aimed at resolving church property issues. The Corsicana church Episcopal rector tried to halt the disputes by proposing rewriting Texas law to favor dissident congregations in property disputes and said it was "the next natural step" in an attempt to halt lawsuits within the church. "It's shameful we're spending so much money suing one another when we could be using that money for mission," he said. The idea fell flat, lawsuits ensued and millions of dollars have since been spent by TEC to recover properties they say belong to them. Monk is a protege of Bishop Keith Ackerman and once served in the diocese of Quincy.

A source told VOL that this is definitely a coup by those who have wanted to get rid of the Salmon/Martins dynasty for a long time. "Canon Monk will be the first non-bishop chairman in the 175-year history of the House. The Statutes of the House used to require that the chairman be a bishop; but those have been changed in the last couple of years with a view to making possible exactly what has happened.

"Martins shouldn't have been shocked at not being re-elected. Rumors have swarmed around his removal to replace him as Chairman for at least three years. Did Martins think those who forced the resignation of Steve Peay (Salmon's hand-picked successor as Dean) were going to keep on electing Salmon's hand-picked successor as Chairman? This move is about repudiating Ed Salmon's legacy, plain and simple."

The irony is Martins' reference to "political forces in play." More than any board chair in recent memory he has politicized the House as did the two Deans (Salmon and Peay) during his tenure.


Tragedy haunted the House this week with the drowning of The Rev. Fr. Dr. Daniel Westberg in a sailing accident on Upper Nashotah Lake. Westberg, DPhil (Oxon), was Professor of Ethics and Moral Theology. He had been a faculty member at Nashotah House since 2000, and a leading scholar in the area of Moral Theology.

The Very Rev. Dr. Robert Munday, former NH Dean and a personal friend mourned his loss and said this; "I am saddened by the news of the passing of my beloved professor, mentor, and friend, Father Westberg. He had a brilliant intellect, was an excellent professor, scholar, and author, who loved the Lord Jesus Christ, was a wonderful priest, and pastor. He always had a peaceful demeanor, was helpful, caring, and always challenged one's thoughts for growth and understanding. I will miss Fr Westberg who had a profound influence on me and many others."

Recently the seminary lost The Rev. Jack Gabig, a tenured professor of practical theology and director of advanced degree programs. He joined Trinity School for Ministry in August as the new associate professor of practical theology and director of the doctor of ministry program at TSM.

Insiders tell VOL that there is considerable student dissatisfaction with the way the seminary is being run. The deeper question is to whom will NH devote its loyalty at the end of the day. Most of TEC's dioceses do not want ordinands from either NH or TSM as they are deemed too orthodox in faith and morals. With same sex marriage now a reality, it is hard to imagine what the future for the House is if other orthodox bodies like the ACNA, the Episcopal Missionary Church and the North American Lutheran church among others, simply refuse to send their ordinands there.

Former PB Katharine Jefferts Schori openly discouraged students from attending NH and there seems to be little love lost between Michael Curry and the Benedictine House.

The House's center for High Church theology, discipline and the ideals of the Oxford Movement with programs centered upon orthodox faith, catholic teaching and the Anglo-Catholic tradition, might not be enough to make the institution viable.

As Bishop Menees wrote to Bishop Martins, "In the last few years Seabury, General and EDS have all but folded. Recently, with the abrupt transitions of the dean and several faculty members I suspect that Nashotah House will not be far behind."


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